If you’re all about the crispy, golden goodness of fried dough like we are, you’re in for a treat with this Atayef with cream cheese filling! This Arabic dessert is at the top of our list of treats to indulge in at the end of our meal to break our fast during Ramadan.

But you don’t have to celebrate Ramadan to get in on this goodness — it’s a star that shines all year round! Hearty and handheld, it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

overhead atayef on platter with pistachios

What is Atayef made of?

Atayef, also sometimes written Qatayef, is a delicious Middle Eastern dessert. Essentially, Atayef are made of a batter similar to pancakes. It is then stuffed with a whipped or creamed cheese.

Atayef batter is fluffy like a pancake, and bubbles up like a British crumpet! You then fill them with a yummy cheese mixture and pinch them up like dumplings.

To cook Atayef, you can bake them in the oven or fry them. We personally LOVE to air fry our Atayef. It is so easy, and the mess is limited. You can absolutely deep fry them, though, if that’s your preference!

How to make the simple syrup

Simple syrup is exactly as the name suggests: simple! You can totally buy it at a grocery store, but it is so easy to make at home.

Simply – pun intended – combine equal parts sugar and water in a small sauce pot. Heat up the saucepan on the stovetop until the water begins to boil. Give the liquid a stir, and keep the heat on until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is no longer visible, turn off the burner and allow the liquid to cool.

And there you go! You have simple syrup.

overhead of simple syrup

The beauty of simple syrup is that you can infuse flavors easily. Here are some ways you can add more flavor to this dish:

  • Try adding mint to the pot before you boil the liquid. Allow the mint to infuse for 10 minutes after the syrup comes together and remove.
  • You can do pretty much the exact same thing with ginger root! We recommend cutting the ginger into dime sized pieces for the best results.
  • Orange peel is another great infusion. You can also try orange zest if you want to incorporate it into the simple syrup. This method would work for any citrus zest!
  • For the cooler months, we love infusing cinnamon and a dash of vanilla. It is so warming. You can use cinnamon sticks or ground cinnamon.simple syrup being poured on atayef on platter

How to make our Atayef with cream cheese filling recipe

Making our delicious cream cheese filled Atayef recipe is best broken down into three steps:

Creating the Atayef batter and cooking it in a pan, then mixing the cream cheese filling, and lastly, stuffing the Atayef pancakes to air fry them.

Just make sure you take the cream cheese out of the fridge before you start on the Atayef batter. This will make sure that the cream cheese is at room temperature by the time you need to mix it!

Step 1: Make the Atayef

  1. In a blender, add the all-purpose flour, cream of wheat, yeast, sugar, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Pour the room-temperature water in and blend the ingredients together.
  2. When the components are smooth, add baking soda to the mix and pulse together a couple times. Be careful not to over-blend after adding the baking soda. Let the batter rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Use a small ladle to pour a scoop of the Atayef batter into a hot pan.
  4. Cook the Atayef until the top side bubbles up. It will look like a cross between a pancake and a crumpet!
  5. Set them aside over a towel and cover them with the top facing up. (This will prevent them from drying out).

Step 2: Make the cream cheese filling

  1. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge to bring it to room temperature.
  2. Get a large bowl. Add the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and sugar to the bowl. Mix it all together using a whisk.
  3. Set aside.

Step 3: Stuff and cook the Atayef

  1. Scoop a spoonful of the cream cheese filling into the center of the Atayef.
  2. Fold the Atayef in half and pinch the edges together. You are essentially making sweet dumpling pouches!
  3. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F. Place in an air fryer and spray on some cooking oil. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Drizzle simple syrup over them and serve warm!overhead atayef on platter with syrup

Can you freeze Atayef?

This recipe is so delectable you’re unlikely to have leftovers! But these little pillows of goodness are freezer-champions. So go ahead and make a big batch and stash some away for your future cravings.

In order to freeze, prepare the Atayef all the way up until the final step of frying it. Do not air fry it before freezing it. When you are ready to eat them, defrost them in the fridge for up to 24 hours, then pick up where you left off! Fry them in the air fryer and drizzle with simple syrup!

a platter of atayef topped with simple syrup

Atayef with Cream Cheese Filling (Ishta Filling)

5 from 1 vote
Author: Food Dolls
Servings: 16 servings
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cream of wheat
  • 1 Tablespoon regular yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt

Instructions 

  • In a blender, add the all purpose flour, cream of wheat, yeast, sugar, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pour the room temperature water in and blend the ingredients together.
    2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup cream of wheat, 1 Tablespoon regular yeast, 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 pinch of salt, 2 tbsp granulated sugar, 3 cups room temperature water
  • When the ingredients are fully combined, add baking soda to the mix. Pulse together a few times, but be careful not to over-blend after adding the baking soda. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Use a small ladle to pour a scoop of the Atayef batter into a hot pan.
  • Cook the Atayef until the top side bubbles up. It will look like a cross between a pancake and a crumpet!
  • Set them aside over a towel and cover with the top facing up. (This will prevent them from drying out)
  • In a bowl add the cream cheese, greek yogurt and sugar. Mix it all together using a whisk.
    8 ounces cream cheese, 1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
  • Scoop a spoonful of the cream cheese filling into the center of the Atayef.
  • Fold the Atayef in half and pinch the edges together. You are essentially making sweet dumpling pouches!
  • Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F. Place in an air fryer and spray on some cooking oil. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
  • Drizzle simple syrup over them and serve warm!

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Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 142kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.001g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 104mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 191IU | Vitamin C: 0.001mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe?Please leave a comment!

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Meet Alia & Radwa

Welcome to Food Dolls! We’re so glad you found us. We are Alia and Radwa, sisters who want to share simple and easy recipes with you. We hope you find recipes here that you enjoy making as much as we do! Learn more about us!

5 from 1 vote

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11 Comments

  1. can I bake these in the oven?, love your recipes keep them coming. I don’t have an air fryer.

    1. Hi Ruthane! It should work in an oven. Just keep a close eye on your atayef. Thank you, we’re so glad you enjoy the recipes! 😊

      Xo,
      Alia & Radwa

  2. 5 stars
    This looks fantastic. My daughter and I are cooking our way around the world and I was wondering if you could tell me what country we could make this for?

  3. YEAH! My daughter LOVED your recipe, but I’m allergic to wheat…so I was trying to figure out what a good substitute for the cream of wheat element might be…any suggestions? I’m SO excited to test this out and try a GF recipe of these! Thanks for helping me share our familial culture with our kids!

    1. This is AMAZING and makes us so happy! Unfortunately, we have not tried any substitutes to the cream wheat. Here is another filling to try.
      8 oz cream cheese, room temp
      3 tablespoons granulated sugar
      2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

      Mix or gently beat the cream cheese, sugar and coconut flakes just until combined.

      Let us know if you give this a try!

    1. You can bake but they definitely won’t be crispy. We recommend using an Air Fryer if you want a lighter option without compromising the texture.

  4. Can we also please have the ingredients for the ‘Atayef with cream cheese filling (ishta filling)’ when I attempt to print it. Regards